For the new college graduate, it can feel like the world is about to burst open and provide all of these opportunities. However, many people underestimate the effect that not maintaining and updating certain skills can have on their employability, and how having a job doesn’t necessarily mean you’re developing professionally. If you are a recent college graduate or have been in the same unsatisfying job for a number of years, here are some tips to help you get out of your groove and into a better employment situation.
Look for Volunteer Opportunities
Sometimes the best way to develop new skills to add to your resume is to look for volunteer opportunities in your area. As many jobs require experience, it can be difficult to get a job so you can get the experience you need to get a better one, so looking into volunteering can be a great way to get some of the skills you need while working somewhere else.
Obviously volunteering is a time investment, so you need to be sure that your schedule is amenable to this extra work, and find an opportunity that suits your schedule. Many volunteer organizations have flexible schedules that allow people in all different employment and career situations to volunteer their time. A Google search for “volunteer,” the industry you want to work in, and your city will reveal a number of results, or using a website like serve.gov can also give you access to geography-specific volunteer opportunities.
Once you’ve found a couple of opportunities, do some research into the companies and contact them about volunteering, asking what’s required of you and how much time do you need to devote? Many volunteer organizations also have full-time employees, so you can expect to be involved in an interview process. Knowing about the company and basic expectations is a really great way to prepare yourself.
Volunteering looks good on your resume because it can hone and sharpen skills, but also because it shows you are invested in community and social progress (depending on your organization). In a new job situation, you more often than not want to show that you’re a team player, so giving up some of your spare time to do something on a volunteer basis can make you a huge asset to a potential employer.
Look for Freelance Work
Depending on your industry, it may be a good idea to look for freelance work so you can develop a portfolio to show a potential employer, or so that you can develop skills that may be underutilized in your current employment situation. Local classifieds will provide you a number of freelance opportunities and posting your own ad may glean some good clients for you to start working with.
In addition, self-marketing is a really important part of establishing yourself in preparation for new career moves. If you have work that can be showcased in a portfolio, build a website to show it off. This not only allows you to direct job interviewers to a body of work, but can also get you freelance business and work.
Taking on extra work is obviously going to take up more of your time, but can also help you to demonstrate to potential employers that you are a self-starter as well as showcasing your new skills.
Take Night Classes
Taking night classes can help to add to your skill set, and can give you the opportunity to develop skills that you have not had the chance to really work on previously, or to help you get an extra edge over your competitors. To get a good idea of what skills are marketable in your industry, look at some job listings that you would like to apply for, and look for classes to brush up on the relevant skills. While taking classes after work can be a drain on your time and wallet, it can also be a long-term investment in a career change or advance, so think of the benefits rather than the potential short-term pitfalls.
Develop a New Hobby
Employers want employees that are well-rounded and generally interesting, and while this may not be a top priority in your industry, having a hobby or interest can really help you to feel more satisfied and fulfilled in your job. Looking for classes at your local community center, or community college can help you to blow off steam after work and introduce you to a new hobby that gives you peace of mind. In addition, discussing your hobbies and interests in a job interview can help you to appear more human and employable.
Building a set of practical skills outside of the workplace is as important as expanding your resume by taking on extra responsibility in the workplace. If you feel that your job isn’t developing your skills in the best way, then look for other opportunities to get the skills you need in preparation for a more suitable work situation.